first_imgHENDERSON, Nev. — President Barack Obama is shrugging off Republican criticism of his actions to lift the threat of deportation from millions of immigrants living illegally in the United States.In an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Obama said it was important that he act unilaterally to prioritize the deportation of criminals and recent arrivals and spare those who have lived here illegally for at least five years and have roots, including children who are American citizens.“Why we would prefer a system in which they’re in the shadows, potentially taking advantage of living here but not contributing?” Obama said in the interview, which was taped Friday in Las Vegas after Obama delivered an immigration speech there.The president pointed to executive orders issued by Democratic and Republican predecessors and said presidents exercise “prosecutorial discretion all the time.”Obama’s executive actions, which he announced Thursday, have drawn a withering response from Republicans, but also has laid bare divisions within the GOP over how to deal with immigration.Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, rejected Obama’s claim of prosecutorial discretion. “Essentially he’s gotten in the job of counterfeiting immigration papers, because there’s no legal authority to do what he’s doing,” Cruz said on “Fox News Sunday.”last_img read more